Idaho murders – update: Bryan Kohberger followed 3 female victims on Instagram before stabbings, says source

Bryan Kohberger is believed to have followed the three female slain University of Idaho victims on Instagram prior to the stabbings, according to a report.

An investigator familiar with the case told People that the 28-year-old criminology PhD student followed the accounts of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves and Xana Kernodle but they did not follow him back.

Then, in late-October – just weeks before the 13 November slayings – Mr Kohberger allegedly messaged one of the victims “repeatedly” on the social media platform, the source said.

Officials have not confirmed the account and a gag order is currently in place around the high-profile case.

Mr Kohberger is facing the death penalty on charges of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary over the quadruple homicide of Mogen, Goncalves, Kernodle and Ethan Chapin in the college town of Moscow, Idaho.

Court documents unsealed last week showed that 15 items – including hairs, receipts, a computer tower, a disposable glove and items with red stains – were recovered from Mr Kohberger’s home in Pullman, Washington, during a search in late December.

Key points

  • Moscow restaurant where victims worked denies Kohberger claims

  • Attorney debunks speculation about ‘co-defendant’ discovery

  • Bryan Kohberger told neighbour he submitted DNA to ancestry website

  • Chilling online comments from suspect as teen revealed

  • Bryan Kohberger waives right to speedy trial

Bryan Kohberger met local police chief and sent him gushing email – months before murders

11:06 , Rachel Sharp

Bryan Kohberger sent a gushing email to a local police chief months before he allegedly murdered four University of Idaho students in a brutal attack in Moscow, Idaho, it has been revealed.

The 28-year-old PhD student applied for a research assistant position in public safety with the Pullman Police Department in Washington in early 2022 and was interviewed by Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins for the position.

After the 12 April meeting, Mr Kohberger sent an email to the police chief saying it was “a great pleasure to meet with you today and share my thoughts and excitement regarding the research assistantship for public safety”.

Mr Jenkins responded: “Great to meet and talk to you as well.”

It is unclear if Mr Kohberger was offered the position, which was due to start in August.

What was found inside Bryan Kohberger’s home:

10:45 , Rachel Sharp

Last week, police in Washington unsealed search warrants for Bryan Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman and his office at Washington State University (WSU).

The unsealed documents reveal that investigators seized a string of items from his home.

This included:

- one nitrite type black glove

- one Walmart receipt with one Dickie’s tag

- two Marshalls receipts

- dust container from a vacuum

- multiple possible hair and hair strands

- one possible animal hair strands

- two cuttings from uncased pillow of reddish/brown stain

- two top and bottom mattress cover with multiple stains

- items with a ‘dark red spot’

- a computer tower

- a Fire TV stick

No items were seized from his office which he shared with other PhD students.

Bryan Kohberger’s Idaho murders arrest affidavit was meant to give answers. Instead it raises these new questions

10:00 , Rachel Sharp

Why did the surviving roommate wait eight hours to call 911 after seeing the killer?

Who was the intended target?

Is Bryan Kohberger the stalker Kaylee Goncalves complained about?

The affidavit revealed what led authorities to arrest Bryan Kohberger. But it also raised further questions about the case.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp reports on the questions still unanswered in the case:

Bryan Kohberger’s Idaho murders arrest affidavit raises these new questions

Could Bryan Kohberger get a plea deal?

09:15 , Rachel Sharp

If convicted of the four murders, Mr Kohberger faces the possibility of lethal injection, should the prosecution seek the death penalty.

In the state of Idaho, the maximum sentence for first-degree murder is death and the suspect is facing four counts of this charge.

While the Latah County prosecutor has not yet confirmed whether or not he plans to seek the death penalty in the case and he is unlikely to show his hand over the coming weeks due to the gag order now in place.

Goncalves’ parents have already said that they want their daughter’s killer to be sentenced to death saying he “has to pay” for what he has done.

“If you want to play god’s role, you’re gonna have to go answer to him,” Steve told NewsNation in early-January.

According to attorney Duncan Levin, in a death penalty case, the only possible plea deal would be for the suspect to be given life in prison instead.

However, he said it is “too early” to tell whether this is likely in this case.

“At this point, it is too early for the two sides to have a discussion about a plea deal,” he told The Independent.

“On a death penalty case, the only plea on the table is life in prison but both sides have too much investigating ahead of them to discuss that at this time.”

UI students launch fundraiser selling bracelets in victims’ honour

08:30 , Rachel Sharp

University of Idaho students have launched fundraiser selling bracelets in honour of the four murder victims.

The Vandal Strong bracelets are black silicon bands featuring the names of Ethan, Maddie, Xana and Kaylee.

They are for sale on the UI website with funds from the sales set to go towards a memorial for the victims.

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Bryan Kohberger should ‘get an F in criminology’ over ‘damning’ Idaho murders affidavit, attorney says

07:45 , Rachel Sharp

Suspected mass killer Bryan Kohberger should “get an F in his criminology class” after the damning affidavit laid out evidence linking him to the murders of four University of Idaho students, according to a prominent criminal defence attorney.

Duncan Levin, the former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office and attorney at Levin & Associates who has represented clients including Harvey Weinstein and Anna Delvey, spoke exclusively to The Independent about the strength of the criminal case against the 28-year-old PhD student.

Based on the evidence outlined in the probable cause affidavit, Mr Levin said that Mr Kohberger did a poor job of “covering his tracks” and that the prosecution has a “very strong case” against him.

“In short he should get an F in criminology class,” he said. “He did not do a good job of covering his tracks.”

Read more here:

Bryan Kohberger should ‘get an F in criminology’ over Idaho murders, attorney says

What could investigators find from Kohberger’s computer tower and Fire TV stick?

07:00 , Rachel Sharp

Last week, police in Washington unsealed search warrants for Bryan Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman and his office at Washington State University (WSU).

The unsealed documents reveal that investigators seized a string of items from his home including possible human and animal hair strands, a disposable glove, items with red and brown stains and a computer tower and Fire TV stick.

No items were seized from his office which he shared with other PhD students.

Experts Dr Monte Miller, a former crime scene investigator and forensic expert for the Texas Department of Public Safety and former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer spoke to The Independent about the items seized.

They said that, in addition to physical evidence, investigators could be looking into Mr Kohberger’s behaviour, including computer searches, articles he read and television he watched in the weeks leading up to and in the aftermath of the murders.

“They may be looking at what he watched. Did he watch the news? Did he watch anything connected to the murders? Did he watch shows about [crime]?” Dr Miller told The Independent. “Some of that might go with his PhD, or could be explainable to him. [Investigators] are just trying to put the whole picture together.”

Ms Coffindaffer echoed that assessment, adding that Mr Kohberger’s Fire TV stick could have been paired with other apps and even social media platforms.

“There could be some very important information there related particularly to his searches and social media,” she added.

Bryan Kohberger’s neighbour reveals ‘normal conversation’ about murders

06:15 , Rachel Sharp

Bryan Kohberger’s neighbour has revealed how he had a “normal conversation” about the college murders with the man now accused of carrying them out.

The neighbour, who did not wish to be named, told Fox News that the 28-year-old criminology PhD student raised the topic just days on from the 13 November slayings.

“He actually says, ‘Have you heard about the murders?’” FOX Nation host Nancy Grace asked.

The neighbour responded: “Yeah, he’s like, ‘Yeah, it seems like they don’t have any leads.’”

Mr Kohberger chillingly went on to suggest that the murders were a “crime of passion”.

In the early days of the investigation, a Moscow official described the killings in that way.

VOICES: I lived through an attack similar to the Idaho murders. We must defend the survivors

05:15 , Rachel Sharp

“It was an amazing, fun, vibrant summer of 1992. I was living in a three-level house off campus from the University at Buffalo with five of my Chi Omega sorority sisters.

“Mine was the front room, a converted patio. The original entrance door was sealed shut and drywalled over, so you wouldn’t know that from the inside.”

Alanna Zabel writes for The Independent:

I lived through an attack similar to the Idaho murders. We must defend the survivors

‘Possible animal hair’ found at Bryan Kohberger’s home

04:15 , Rachel Sharp

A “possible animal hair” was among the evidence seized from the home of Bryan Kohberger – sparking speculation that it could belong to victim Kaylee Goncalves’ dog.

Search warrants for Mr Kohberger’s home and WSU office were unsealed last week, revealing what investigators found during searches executed on 30 December.

Among the items seized was a “possible animal hair strand”. While Mr Kohberger is not believed to have a pet, Goncalves had a pet dog named Murphy who she shared with her ex-boyfriend.

Murphy was at home at the time of the murders and was found unscathed in Goncalves’ bedroom. Goncalves and Madison Mogen were found dead in Mogen’s room.

An affidavit in support of Mr Kohberger’s arrest revealed that one of the victims’ two surviving roommates Dylan Mortensen, had heard the dog making noise in Goncalves’ room around the time of the killings.

The affidavit also stated that a security camera near the home heard the dog barking at 4.17am.

What the newly-expanded gag order means

03:30 , Rachel Sharp

A gag order was first issued earlier this month preventing law enforcement officials, attorneys for both the defence and the prosecution, as well as others involved in the high-profile case from speaking out about it.

Last week, the gag order was broadly expanded to also ban any attorneys representing survivors, witnesses or the victims’ family members from talking or writing about the case.

In the court order, Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall said that “there is a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial for all parties involved and the right to free expression as afforded under both the United States and Idaho Constitution.

“To preserve the right to a fair trial some curtailment of the dissemination of information in this case is necessary and authorized under the law,” she wrote.

Now a coalition of news organisations is asking a judge to pull back the scope of the gag order, saying that media access to officials can provide the public with important context in such high-profile criminal cases.

“This order is unnecessarily sweeping and broad and severely impedes the public’s understanding of a significant criminal investigation that profoundly impacted the community,” said Josh Hoffner, national news director for The Associated Press.

Bryan Kohberger’s trial for the Idaho murders is months away. How strong is the case against him?

02:45 , Rachel Sharp

It will be another six months before Bryan Kohberger and the families of his alleged victims come face to face in court again, after his preliminary hearing was postponed until the summer.

The 28-year-old criminology PhD student could face the death penalty if convicted when he eventually goes on trial for the murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin – the four students who were found violently stabbed to death in an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, on 13 November.

Details about the murders and his alleged role in them were laid out in the damning probable cause affidavit released earlier this month.

But just how strong is the case against him? What can we expect next from the defence and the prosecution? And why has Mr Kohberger’s attorney requested evidence about a co-defendant?

Duncan Levin, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office who has no official connection to the Idaho murders case, spoke to The Independent’s Rachel Sharp about the strength of the criminal case and what to expect next as it makes it way through the courts.

Read what he said here:

How strong is the case against Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger?

Neighbour says Bryan Kohberger described murders as ‘crime of passion’ prior to arrest

02:00 , Rachel Sharp

Bryan Kohberger’s neighbour has claimed that the murder suspect brought up the student killings in conversation one time.

The neighbour, who wishes to remain anonymous, told CBS News that Mr Kohberger spoke to him about the quadruple homicide just days on from the 13 November attack.

“He brought it up in conversation,” they said.

“[He] asked if I had heard about the murders, which I did. And then he said, ‘Yeah, seems like they have no leads. Seems like it was a crime of passion.’”

“At the time of our conversation, it was only a few days after it happened so there wasn’t much details out.”

What forensic experts say about evidence seized from Bryan Kohberger’s home in the Idaho murders case

00:30 , Rachel Sharp

Authorities have lifted the lid on alleged evidence found in the home of Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger, marking the latest development in a horror case that has gripped the nation for two months.

A search warrant was executed at Mr Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman, Washington, on 30 December, the same day he was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania on charges for the 13 November stabbings of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin in Moscow, Idaho.

A record of evidence recovered during the apartment search was unsealed on Wednesday, revealing the seizure of 15 items including hairs, receipts, a computer tower, a disposable glove and items with peculiar stains.

The record reignited a frenzy of speculation online - despite its simplicity and lack of conjecture.

But what significance, if any, can actually be gleaned from the list? The Independent‘s Andrea Blanco spoke to two experts - Dr Monte Miller, a former crime scene investigator and forensic expert for the Texas Department of Public Safety; and former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer - for their takes on each item.

Read what they said here:

What forensic experts say about evidence seized from Bryan Kohberger’s home

Mad Greek owner denies suspect dined there

Monday 23 January 2023 23:45 , Rachel Sharp

A former employee at the Mad Greek restaurant, where Madison Mogen and Xana Kernodle worked, told People last week that Bryan Kohberger had visited the eatery in the weeks before the murders.

The suspect, who is vegan, popped in at least twice for some vegan pizza, the employee said.

An investigator with knowledge of the case told People that investigators knew about the visits to the restaurant, and had seized footage from it and interviewed both the staff and owners.

However, this was almost instantly refuted by the owner of the Mad Greek, who denied Mr Kohberger had ever been there.

Jackie Fischer slammed the article as “completely fabricated information” in a Facebook post on Friday and urged the public and the media to “please allow us to grieve the loss of our friends and co-worker”.

Officials have not addressed the speculation about the restaurant visit or the Instagram account and are unlikely to do so, due to a gag order preventing law enforcement officials and the defence and prosecution teams from speaking out about the high-profile case.

“The news/media should really do their due diligence before running a story with completely fabricated information. This will be my only response to this story from People… It is not true. This person who wants their 5 minutes of fame has now caused a whole bunch of extra work for myself and the investigators,” the owner wrote.

“To all media/reporters/internet sleuths, etc.. please allow us to grieve the loss of our friends and co workers. This has been incredibly hard on us. With our phones ringing off the hook, reporters banging on my door at my private residence and “hunting” down employees as well as showing up constantly at the restaurant, we have not been afforded the time to grieve. Please stop calling, messaging, knocking and showing up. I personally will not be doing any interviews or entertaining wild accusations at this time. My employees also feel the same!”

‘Stained’ items found at suspect’s home likely covered in blood, say experts

Monday 23 January 2023 23:00 , Rachel Sharp

Last week, police in Washington unsealed search warrants for Mr Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman and his office at Washington State University (WSU).

In the documents, investigators listed several items with stains, including cuttings of a mattress cover, a “reddish/brown” stain on an uncovered pillow and a “collection of dark red spot”.

Experts Dr Monte Miller, a former crime scene investigator and forensic expert for the Texas Department of Public Safety and former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer both told The Independent that police likely believe those stains could be blood.

“A reddish or brown stain is a euphemism for, ‘We found something that looks like blood,’” Dr Miller said. “It might be blood from the victims, might be his blood. They don’t know until they test it, but they’ll be able to get DNA if it is blood. We don’t know what the stains in the cover sheets look like, but again they’re looking for any kind of DNA, evidence that might have come from the crime scene.”

Ms Coffindaffer added: “They don’t call it blood, but it’s definitely inferred that it was blood.”

Dr Miller noted that while stains on clothing and bedding are not necessarily unusual, investigators will try to link the evidence found at the Pullman apartment to the crime scene in Moscow.

“The likelihood that any of those stains came from the crime scene, is going to be dependent on how well he cleaned up,” he said.

She slept through an attack that nearly killed her roommate. Now, she’s defending a stranger in the Idaho murders

Monday 23 January 2023 22:15 , Rachel Sharp

When Alanna Zabel first heard that four young students had been viciously murdered in their rental home after a night out, she didn’t want to think about it.

When she then heard that one of the surviving roommates was coming under attack for how she handled the unimaginable experience, she realised she had to speak out.

“I can understand every aspect of what she went through. Being 19 years old, having fun, you don’t know any reality where a man breaks into your house and attacks your friends,” she tells The Independent.

“I get it, I get it when people say ‘why didn’t she call 911?’ But those people are just used to watching these things happen in movies. This is a very unique and traumatic experience.”

Three decades before University of Idaho students Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were attacked in an off-campus home in Moscow, Ms Zabel’s college home in Buffalo, New York, was broken into by a man who raped and violently attacked her roommate with a hammer, leaving her for dead.

There are many chilling similarities between the two cases – none more so than the experiences of the roommates who survived.

Alanna Zabel tells The Independent’s Rachel Sharp why she feels the need to defend the surviving roommate in Idaho and how she understands the way trauma can shape reactions to such horrifying events:

She slept through an attack in her home - and has a message about the Idaho murders

911 dispatcher may be behind ‘unconscious individual’ police report

Monday 23 January 2023 21:30 , Rachel Sharp

The 911 call alerting law enforcement to the murders of the four University of Idaho students has long been shrouded in mystery after Moscow Police said that the caller initially reported “an unconscious individual” in the home.

The call was made from the cellphone of one of the two surviving roommates at around 11.58am on 13 November, with the dispatcher speaking to multiple people.

Officers arrived at the home to find a bloody scene, with Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin all dead from multiple stab wounds.

Since then, questions have persisted around why the caller reported an “unconscious individual” when officials described the crime scene as one of the worst they had ever seen.

A potential reason for the mysterious 911 call has now been revealed in Air Mail’s article “The Eyes of a Killer”.

Civilian employees at Whitcom 9-1-1, an agency in Pullman, Washington, handle the 911 calls to the Moscow Police Department as well as several other agencies, according to the report.

The agency is severely understaffed to such an extent that the dispatchers’ guild has previously warned that “our ability to uphold public safety is at risk”.

Under standard protocol, when callers “are agitated” the dispatcher will often assign the call with the generic label of “unconscious person” rather than waste valuable time and resources trying to gather specific details.

In this case, it is possible that the dispatcher assigned the generic label while speaking to the students who were panicked by what they saw and were passing the phone from one to the other.

Why is there a six month gap before the preliminary hearing?

Monday 23 January 2023 20:45 , Rachel Sharp

At his status hearing in Latah County Courthouse on 12 January, Bryan Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial - which would have set his preliminary hearing within 14 days.

Instead, his attorney asked that the next court date instead be delayed until the summer, to give defence more time to review all the evidence in the case.

The prosecution agreed with the request and the judge scheduled the preliminary hearing for the week beginning 26 June, setting aside the entire week for the hearing.

Now, the victims’ families and the public will have to wait another six months to learn further details about the murders and the case against Mr Kohberger.

Duncan Levin, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office who has no official connection to the Idaho murders case, told The Independent that a six-month time gap between a status hearing and preliminary hearing is “somewhat unusual” but it’s a marker of the complexity of the case.

“It is somewhat unusual to see such a long gap but then again nothing is normal in this case,” he said.

“Death penalty cases do mean that everything will take longer and be done a little bit differently than one might expect to see on a typical case.”

The six-month delay is a benefit to both sides, he added.

“The defence wants as much time as possible to conduct their own investigations before they have the opportunity to cross-examine the state’s witnesses. So they’re eager to have more information in their hands before any testimony is heard in the preliminary hearing,” he said.

“Similarly, the prosecution needs time to conduct further investigations. For example they will be likely doing a forensic examination of Kohberger’s automobile and residence. And they are still yet to uncover a motive. They have a lot of work yet to do.”

He added: “Both sides really need more time to review evidence and develop their cases.”

What Idaho murders investigators were looking for at Bryan Kohberger’s apartment - and what they found

Monday 23 January 2023 20:00 , Rachel Sharp

When Bryan Kohberger was charged with the brutal murders of four Idaho students last month, authorities immediately searched his dorm room and office at nearby Washington State University.

In a newly unsealed search warrant application, investigators outlined exactly what they were looking for at the home of the 28-year-old graduate student who was arrested in Pennsylvania last month.

First, the application, filed in Washington’s Superior Court on 29 December, gave police permission to search for “blood, or other bodily fluid or human tissue or skin cells, or items with blood or other bodily fluid or human tissue or skin cells on the items.”

The Independent’s Graeme Massie breaks down what the search warrant reveals about what investigators were looking for – and what they found:

What Idaho murders investigators were looking for at Bryan Kohberger’s apartment

Kaylee Goncalves’ family reveals reason for calls to former boyfriend not long before murders

Monday 23 January 2023 19:15 , Rachel Sharp

Kaylee Goncalves’ family members have revealed a possible reason for the calls the slain student made to her former boyfriend not long before she was brutally murdered.

In the early hours of 13 November, Goncalves and Mogen both made phone calls to Goncalves’ ex-boyfriend Jack DuCoeur, with whom she shares pet dog Murphy.

Mr DuCoeur did not answer the calls.

Just hours later – at between 4am and 4.25am – Goncalves and Mogen were brutally stabbed to death alongside Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.

In a sit-down interview with the YouTube channel Chronicles of Olivia, the Goncalves family spoke out about the calls, saying that they believe their daughter was seeking to rekindle her relationship with Mr DuCoeur.

Goncalves broke up with Mr DuCoeur ahead of her post-graduation move to Texas, but had later voiced concerns that she “might not ever find another Jack” and was considering getting back together with him, they said.

Kaylee’s father Steve Goncalves said that the couple had remained friends and the slain student was looking “for every excuse for [Mr DuCoeur] to pick up the phone.”

Bryan Kohberger’s neighbour says he claimed to have submitted DNA to ancestry website in past

Monday 23 January 2023 18:30 , Rachel Sharp

A neighbour of Bryan Kohberger has claimed that the murder suspect told him he had submitted his DNA to an ancestry website in the past – casting new light on the revelation that investigators used a genealogy database to help match him to DNA evidence found at the crime scene.

The 28-year-old PhD student was tracked down by investigators in part thanks to DNA that the killer is believed to have left inside the student home in Moscow, Idaho.

According to the probable cause affidavit, a knife sheath was left behind at the crime scene on the bed next to the bodies of Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves.

DNA found on the sheath was matched to Mr Kohberger, using DNA obtained from trash taken from his parents’ home, the affidavit states.

Sources told CNN that investigators also enlisted the help of a genetic genealogy database.

Now, Mr Kohberger’s neighbour has spoken out to say that the suspect once brought up the topic of his ancestry and told him he had submitted his DNA for consumer genetic testing months before the murders.

The neighbour, who was not named but is a fellow Washington State University graduate student who lived in the same on-campus apartment complex in Pullman, Washington, as Mr Kohberger, told the Idaho Statesman that the pair got to know each other after they both moved there in August.

He said that they exchanged cellphone numbers and they went on a walk together chatting one evening in August.

“He talked about his ancestors,” he said.

“He had some sort of DNA test. I don’t know how he got to that point… It was just interesting to him.”

Bryan Kohberger is believed to have followed the three female slain University of Idaho victims on Instagram

Monday 23 January 2023 17:45 , Rachel Sharp

Bryan Kohberger is believed to have followed all three slain female University of Idaho victims on Instagram and “repeatedly” messaged one of them prior to the brutal stabbings, according to a report.

An investigator familiar with the case told People that the 28-year-old criminology PhD student followed the accounts of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves and Xana Kernodle but neither of them followed him back.

Then, in late-October – around two weeks before the 13 November slayings – Mr Kohberger allegedly messaged one of the victims “repeatedly” on the social media platform, the source said.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Bryan Kohberger is believed to have followed Idaho murders victims on Instagram

Hit-and-run unfolded outside Bryan Kohberger’s home on night of murders

Monday 23 January 2023 17:15 , Oliver O'Connell

A hit-and-run unfolded outside of Bryan Kohberger’s home on the same night that he allegedly murdered four University of Idaho students, it has been revealed.

At around 11.40pm on the night of 12 November, police were called to a report of a crash in front of an apartment complex on the Washington State University (WSU) campus, in Pullman, Washington state, according to authorities.

The apartment complex, which houses mainly graduate or PhD students, had been home to Mr Kohberger since August when he relocated from his home state of Pennsylvania to start a PhD program in criminal justice at the university.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Hit-and-run unfolded outside Bryan Kohberger’s home on night of Idaho college murders

VOICES: The eerie online world of the Idaho murders case

Monday 23 January 2023 17:00 , Rachel Sharp

“While America has long been fascinated with true crime, the shocking brutality and seeming randomness of the Moscow murders sent the internet sleuth community into overdrive.

“Conspiracy theories and rumours have dominated the investigation with thousands of people joining social media groups to discuss their take on what transpired and why.”

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp writes:

The eerie online world of the Idaho murders case

Bryan Kohberger is believed to have followed the three female victims on Instagram

Monday 23 January 2023 16:15 , Rachel Sharp

Bryan Kohberger is believed to have followed the three female slain University of Idaho victims on Instagram prior to the stabbings, according to a report.

An investigator familiar with the case told People that the 28-year-old criminology PhD student followed the accounts of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves and Xana Kernodle but they did not follow him back.

Then, in late-October – just weeks before the 13 November slayings – Mr Kohberger allegedly messaged one of the victims “repeatedly” on the social media platform, the source said.

Officials have not confirmed the account and a gag order is currently in place around the high-profile case.

Why is the defence requesting evidence about a ‘co-defendant’?

Monday 23 January 2023 15:30 , Rachel Sharp

Last week, Bryan Kohberger’s attorney Ann Taylor filed a discovery request in the case, asking the judge to order the prosecution to hand over all discovery in the case within 14 days.

Among the discovery requests were witness statements, digital media and police reports about the case.

It also included a request for information about a “co-defendant” in the case.

“Statements of co-defendant. Any written or recorded statements by a codefendant, and the substance of any relevant oral statement made by a co-defendant whether before or after arrest in response to interrogation by any person known by the codefendant to be a peace officer or agent of the prosecuting attorney, or which are otherwise relevant to the offense charged,” the filing reads.

The request has prompted speculation of evidence suggesting that Mr Kohberger may have had an accomplice – or that the defence could seek to argue that as part of their case.

However, Mr Levin explained that this is just part of the standard requests for discovery in a case.

“These are just very standard requests as part of the defence’s discovery request,” he said.

While ruling out other individuals as possible suspects will likely form part of the state’s case against Mr Kohberger, he said that this does not indicate that there are other suspects.

The probable cause affidavit makes no mention of a co-defendant and law enforcement officials have previously insisted that they believe the suspect acted alone.

The request making mention of a co-defendant is also just one of 18 discovery requests made in the court filing.

“I don’t think I would make much hay of that,” Mr Levin said of the discovery request.

What forensic experts say about evidence seized from Bryan Kohberger’s Washington state home

Monday 23 January 2023 15:00 , Andrea Blanco

Authorities have lifted the lid on alleged evidence found in the home of Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger, marking the latest development in a horror case that has gripped the nation for two months.

A search warrant was executed at Mr Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman, Washington, on 30 December, the same day he was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania on charges for the 13 November stabbings of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin in Moscow, Idaho.

A record of evidence recovered during the apartment search was unsealed on Wednesday, revealing the seizure of 15 items including hairs, receipts, a computer tower, a disposable glove and items with peculiar stains.

The record reignited a frenzy of speculation online - despite its simplicity and lack of conjecture.

But what significance, if any, can actually be gleaned from the list? The Independent spoke to two experts - Dr Monte Miller, a former crime scene investigator and forensic expert for the Texas Department of Public Safety; and former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer - for their takes on each item.

Read the full story.

DNA evidence of extreme importance in otherwise circumstantial case

Monday 23 January 2023 13:00 , Andrea Blanco

Based on the “damning” evidence outlined in the probable cause affidavit, the prosecution has a “very strong case” against Mr Kohberger, according to prominent defence attorney Duncan Levin.

Mr Levin, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office who has no official connection to the Idaho murders case, speaks to The Independent about the strength of the criminal case and what to expect next as it makes its way through the courts.

“It’s an exceedingly detailed probable cause affidavit and frankly it’s pretty surprising that the prosecutors would include the level of detail they included in it,” said the attorney at Levin & Associates who has represented clients including Harvey Weinstein and Anna Delvey.

He added: “I have to say looking at it it is a perfect case of where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

“There’s so many damning pieces of evidence. The information here all points to Kohberger as the only person to have committed the crime.”

The suspect - who is presumed innocent until proven guilty - was tied to the murders through DNA evidence, cellphone data, an eyewitness account and his white Hyundai Elantra, according to the bombshell probable cause affidavit released earlier this month.

The DNA evidence in particular is one “very, very important piece of information,” Mr Levin said.

Kaylee’s ex pens tribute posts on Instagram account for their dog

Monday 23 January 2023 11:00 , Andrea Blanco

Goncalves’ mother Kristi Goncalves shared that Jack DuCoeur is behind an Instagram account dedicated to Murphy, the pet dog found inside the home when police made the grim discovery on 13 November.

The dog was handed over to animal services and was later released to Mr DuCoeur.

Although the couple had recently broken up ahead of Goncalves’ move to Texas, they had remained friendly, their relatives have said.

On the account’s first post on Monday, Mr DuCoeur posted a picture of the Labradoodle with the caption: “Missing my mom every day, but trying to live my best life. I got to admire her beauty in the sky this evening.”

“This is a throwback photo of me. My mom loved this one,” another post read.

Mr DuCoeur also posted a picture that Goncalves had taken of him and Murphy.

The account already has more than 10,000 followers, with people commenting heartfelt messages.

“This hurts my heart. You’re a good boy Murphy. So happy you and your Dad have each other,” an Instagram user wrote. “You’ll be best pals for life. Much love and sympathy to everyone mourning Kaylee.”

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News outlets join to oppose gag order in Idaho stabbing case

Monday 23 January 2023 09:00 , Andrea Blanco

Twenty regional and national news organizations have formed a coalition to ask a judge to narrow a gag order in the case against a man accused of killing four University of Idaho students, The Associated Press reported.

The coalition, which includes contends that press access to law enforcement officers and other officials involved in high-stakes criminal cases provides the public with important context and a better understanding of how the criminal justice system operates.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary in connection with the stabbing deaths in Moscow, Idaho. Prosecutors have yet to reveal if they intend to seek the death penalty.

The case garnered widespread publicity, and earlier this month Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall issued a gag order barring attorneys, law enforcement agencies and others associated with the case from talking about it.

On Thursday she broadened that gag order, also prohibiting any attorneys representing survivors, witnesses or the victims’ family members from talking or writing about the case.

“There is a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial for all parties involved and the right to free expression as afforded under both the United States and Idaho Constitution,” Marshall wrote in the amended order. “To preserve the right to a fair trial some curtailment of the dissemination of information in this case is necessary and authorized under the law.”

Mad Greek restaurant denies Bryan Kohberger dined at restaurant where two victims worked

Monday 23 January 2023 07:00 , Andrea Blanco

The restaurant where Madison Mogen and Xana Kernodle worked has responded to claims that Bryan Kohberger ate there twice in the weeks before the Idaho murders.

In a strongly-worded Facebook post on Friday, the restaurant called a People magazine report citing an anonymous worker who said Mr Kohberber visited twice “completely fabricated information”.

“The news/media should really do their due diligence before running a story with completely fabricated information. This will be my only response to this story from People… It is not true,” the post signed by Jackie Fischer read.

“This person who wants their 5 minutes of fame has now caused a whole bunch of extra work for myself and the investigators.

“I also have not forbidden employees from speaking to reporters. We all decided collectively to support the families and not share anything that could potentially harm the investigation or cause the families more stress.

“To all media/reporters/internet sleuths, etc.. please allow us to grieve the loss of our friends and co-workers. This has been incredibly hard on us. With our phones ringing off the hook, reporters banging on my door at my private residence and ‘hunting’ down employees as well as showing up constantly at the restaurant, we have not been afforded the time to grieve.

“Please stop calling, messaging, knocking and showing up. I personally will not be doing any interviews or entertaining wild accusations at this time. My employees also feel the same!

“To all others, please don’t believe everything you read. If it’s not coming from the courts or the police, wait until it does or doesn’t before judging.

“To everyone who has supported myself, my family and my employees, thank you. Your kind words and support help us get through each day while we navigate these unknown times.”

 (IG)
(IG)

Victim’s father ‘broke down and cried’ at news of suspect arrest

Monday 23 January 2023 05:00 , Andrea Blanco

The devastated father of slain University of Idaho student Madison Mogen has revealed that he just “broke down and cried” when he learned that his daughter’s accused killer had been taken into custody by police.

Ben Mogen had been clinging onto hope that the murderer who violently stabbed his daughter to death alongside her friends Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin would be brought to justice.

Finally, seven weeks on from the 13 November slayings, an investigator broke the news to him that a suspect – Bryan Kohberger – had finally been arrested and charged with their murders.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp reports:

Madison Mogen’s father ‘broke down’ when he learned of Bryan Kohberger’s arrest

Kaylee Goncalves’ family says ‘it’s almost like she knew she only had a certain amount of time on earth’

Monday 23 January 2023 03:00 , Andrea Blanco

In a sit-down interview with the YouTube channel Chronicles of Olivia — filmed two days before Mr Kohberger’s arrest– the Goncalves remembered their daughter as a hardworking young woman who was not afraid to go after what she wanted in life.

Among other bittersweet revelations made in the YouTube interview was that Goncalves had taken summer classes to graduate ahead of time.

“It’s almost like she knew she only had a certain amount of time on this planet and she was rushing towards [her goals],” Mr Goncalves said.

The family also spoke of the sheer fear and devastation they experienced after finding out that Kaylee was killed through a family member with connections in Moscow. They first tried to get in touch with both Goncalves and Mogen – to no avail.

When they attempted to call police in the immediate hours after the bodies were found, the family was told no information could be released at the time.

An officer eventually showed up at the door to officially inform them that their daughter had been killed.

“I kept giving [my parents] hope,” Alivea Gonclaves said. “I kept saying ‘If they were killed last night, you guys would know by now.’ I kept giving them hope.”

According to the family, they reached out to the YouTube channel because Kaylee followed it on TikTok and would often watch videos on the true crime account.

 (Instagram)
(Instagram)

What can we expect from the preliminary hearing?

Monday 23 January 2023 19:13 , Rachel Sharp

Further evidence and information about the case is not expected to be made public until the preliminary hearing on 26 June, after a judge issued a gag order preventing officials from talking about the case.

Behind the scenes, both sides will be “conducting investigative work, examining discovery and moving the case forward,” prominent defence attorney Duncan Levin told The Independent.

In the preliminary hearing, the prosecution and the defence will then both lay out their cases in court for the first time, witnesses will likely be called and the defence will have the opportunity to cross-examine them, and Bryan Kohberger will enter a plea on the charges.

“I think this case looks like it is headed to trial,” said Mr Levin, adding that due to the complexity of the case it could take some time.

“As a case where the death penalty is on the table, it will take a long time to wind its way through the courts and it will be a lengthy court proceeding,” he said.

“It’s not the kind of case a court regularly handles so whether it’s in 2023 is an open question.”

Expert explains how airtight the case against Bryan Kohberger is

Monday 23 January 2023 01:00 , Andrea Blanco

It will be another six months before Bryan Kohberger and the families of his alleged victims come face to face in court again, after his preliminary hearing was postponed until the summer.

The prominent attorney Duncan Levin speaks to The Independent’s Rachel Sharp about the case against Bryan Kohberger and what to expect for the next moves from the defence and the prosecution:

How strong is the case against Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger?

These were all the items seized from Bryan Kohberger’s home on the day of his arrest

Sunday 22 January 2023 22:47 , Andrea Blanco

Police investigating the murder of four Idaho students seized a string of items from suspect Bryan Kohberger’s apartment, including possible hair strands, a disposable glove, items with red and brown stains and a computer, according to a newly unsealed search warrant.

According to the search warrant unsealed on Wednesday, these are the items seized from his apartment:

  • One nitrite type black glove

  • 1 Walmart receipt with one Dickiestag

  • 2 Marshalls receipts

  • Dust container from Bissell PowerForce” vacuum

  • 8 possible hair strands

  • FireTV stick with cord/plug

  • 1 possible animal hair strand

  • 1 possible hair

  • 1 possible hair

  • 1 possible hair

  • 1 possible hair strand

  • 1 computer tower

  • 1 collection of dark red spot (collected without testing)

  • 2 cuttings from uncased pillow of reddish/brown stain (larger stain tested)

  • 2 top and bottom mattress covers packaged separately with multiple stains(one tested)